I’ve been trying to write a piece about the creatures you find on the bus and all this speaking about joining cultures that aren’t mine with reference to crude stereotypes, it was time for me to experience the first big event in Edinburgh (and hopefully the first one where I will remain still in Edinburgh): Saint Patrick’s Day.
“But how do you celebrate St.Paddies? You’re in Scotland, not Ireland” you may say since you’re a fucking idiot. “Same way you celebrate Heritage Day, when your heritage was mainly focused on wiping everybody else’s out” I sap back, clearly too superior to talk to you, even hypothetically.
Like everywhere that isn’t either of the Irelands (yes there are two, educate yourself), St. Patrick’s is dedicated to pretending to like all the things Irish people do: Guinness (even though it tastes like rich drainwater with some yeast thrown in), gingers (which makes you wonder why it’s not St. Patrick’s Night), short people (according to my sources, I have no first-hand experience) and lime green as a colour. Somehow hunger strikes, Liam Neeson, and Westlife didn’t quite make the cut, but perhaps that’s for the best.
So I set out on my own, aiming not only to have a good night, but to break the threshold of the door frame and actually sleep at home. The bar was high, but third time’s the charm. So out on the town I went. The Cowgate area (like a student bar street, like the square, but still there) had gone all out. I was reminded of all the times we celebrated St. Paddies back home by spending the majority of the evening queuing outside Irish bars that I didn’t actually want to get in.
Having been gatvol of standing in line, and clearly way behind the locals in terms of drinking, I trekked through the fog and went to a castle-looking place with a vaguely Irish name. The kind that said “Guinness, but you don’t have to wait for it”. They had a special where two beers got you an authentic Irish Guinness hat made in China. I bit. First mistake.
Although the vibe of the first place was pretty much non-existent, the hat that I got had the biggest impact on my evening. On the rare occasion that I was not in a line, I was taking my hat back from every drunk doos that thought it would be fun to steal. And it’s not like these hats were in short supply, mine just happens to be closer. An on top of a guy that looked pissed off, but not dangerously so.
But I didn’t know this yet and I walked up the Cowgate. A few bars had been roped into a joint celebration of the day and it had been going since the morning. The line outside the final destination could only be matched by the size of those to get a new student card at varsity, so I opted out. I know this is a bit of an insider comparison so let me put it this way: there is one place to get a new student card at my university, and people lose cards more often then they’ve played them in the recent protests, so there were a dick-load of people.
I did, however, manage to see a poor girl who had done the whole high-heel thing, fall head-over-heels just next to the front line. I was closest to her, besides her friend, and was not sure if I was meant to help her out. Her friend gave me the “who’s this dick with the stupid hat” look, but barely being able to lift her arm, quickly changed to the “maybe feminism isn’t all that great” look. I helped her out and got the first taste of being sober around drunk people. It’s horrible. They all shout a lot. And are constantly looking for places. But seeing that they weren’t all going to get sober, I was going to have to get drunk.
Three failed attempts at Irish bars later and I went to one of the few nations I know would have a drink without the fuss: I went to the Australian bar. It too was crowded and didn’t have Guinness, but I got local beer at discount prices so I was stoked. Ended up being a South African served by an Englishwoman in an Australian bar in Scotland celebrating an Irish holiday. I felt confused and thirsty.
I was given advice by a real Irish guy to find a place called Dropkick Murphy’s. The line was short and I took advantage of it. My usual trick of saying “howsit” and presenting my South African driver’s licence was interrupted by a bouncer who gave me his best South African accent through his British tongue. “Ja howsit. Lekker bru”, said McLurch aware of how much this would freak me out. I was taken aback so much that I even paid for entrance.
The venue was cool but it was full of scum. More hat-stealy people, most often some old rugby players who clearly struggled to make it out of the front row at high school, and now had similar problems making it out of the front door. The people were generally slimey and I got over it.
Having had quite a bit of time pass, the end destination where poppie ate shit was finally open and I walked in feeling stoked that I had avoided the wait. The area inside was beyond fucked and reminded me of a clubhouse night when I still had to clean the floor. The music picked up and I even ended up chatting to a chick who claimed to be doing a masters in linguistics. She said something to do with sign language. This made little sense in my head. She also seemed to struggle communicating with me with the loud music going off and I concluded that she was either a liar or an idiot.
My plan of taking less money was backfiring, and although I was not really feeling the cold, I was not digging trudging my way through the dance floor to pay for drinks with pennies. I took it as a sign and tried to catch the bus home. The bus was late so I walked. It was quite the walk, but nothing on the 8 hour marathon Google Maps had set out for me the previous week. But I had a goal in mind. So I walked, past the bridges, via the piss-bush (after which I saw police and decided that if I hid my hat in my jacket they’d never recognise me), past my haggis guy, only to be overtaken by the bus that was late.
But believe it or not, I made it home. Even opened the door this time.
Luck of the Irish.